Princess Mononoke Movie Poster Image

Princess Mononoke

Epic, compelling, and violent anime classic.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 133 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One of the story's themes is the debate between preserving and protecting the environment versus the needs of mankind to exploit the resources of the environment in order to thrive and prosper. 

Positive role models

No real positive role models emerge. There are strong female characters, but one is motivated by greed, and the other, due to how she was raised, hates humankind. 

Violence

The boar god who dies in the opening scene is covered in swirling snakes. When it dies, it decomposes down to its skeleton in seconds. Battle scenes involving samurai bandits include shots of dismemberment and decapitation. The boar gods die gruesome deaths. Blood is visible when characters are wounded. All of this is presented in the context of a violent era involving warring factions and a life-or-death struggle between man and animal. Boars are later killed with grenades. Characters do battle with swords, grenades, poison darts, rifles, bows and arrows. 

Sex

Talk of how the women who are employed to make the rifles in Iron Town once worked in brothels. 

Language

"Bastard." "Damn." "Piss."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief mention made of wine drinking. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Princess Mononoke is a 1997 Miyazaki-directed anime in which a young warrior, stricken by a deadly curse, must find a way to rescue the forests of the west. This movie is darker and more intense than many of Hayao Miyazaki's other classics. Although it's an animated fantasy, it boasts the scope and grandeur of a live-action historical epic and has many battle scenes and other violent sequences, as well as additional gruesome elements. Characters do battle with rifles, swords, bows and arrows, grenades, and poison darts. There are scenes in which characters are decapitated, or lose their limbs in battle. In terms of profanity, a character compares soup to "super donkey piss." Mention is made of the female rifle makers of Iron Town being former prostitutes. While it's probably too much for most younger kids, older tweens will be thrilled and engrossed, and teens will love it.

What's the story?

PRINCESS MONONOKE begins in 15th century Japan, as Ashitaka, a young prince from a remote tribe, is cursed by a dying boar god from the forest region of western Japan. His journey to the source of the curse takes him to Iron Town. There Lady Eboshi runs an operation that smelts ore taken from the surrounding mountains once dominated by wolves and boars. Ashitaka is drawn to San, a girl raised by wolves. Together they work to try to stop Lady Eboshi and the corrupt monk Jigo from waging war on the animals.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This film is a masterwork of animated storytelling from Hayao Miyazaki, the director of My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. Charting an epic battle of humans versus gods in old Japan, it's filled with adventure and beauty. It boasts the scope and grandeur of a live-action historical epic yet also has the fantastic elements of animation. These elements, in the form of talking animals and a magical forest spirit, are treated with utmost realism. The animals debate their plight with dead seriousness and attack humans in murderous rage. They're nothing like the talking animals in Disney features.

The English dub employs several name actors. They all do a splendid job, which can only help Princess Mononoke's acceptance. The only awkward note is sounded by the mix of accents among the cast, from Lady Eboshi's British accent (Minnie Driver) to the monk Jigo's Southern accent (Billy Bob Thornton) to San's modern American teenaged inflections (Claire Danes). Billy Crudup has a neutral accent and carries the entire film as Ashitaka, conveying the moral dilemma of a young outsider caught between two worlds. The other name players include Gillian Anderson as the wolf god Moro, Jada Pinkett-Smith as Toki, and Keith David as boar god Okkoto. The question of its suitability for kids will spark debate, although kids who see it will not soon forget it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the role of violence in Princess Mononoke and in real life. How does the impact of the violence in this movie compare to live-action films?

  • What audience do you think this movie is most likely to appeal to? Why? Who do you think it's intended for?

  • How does this movie convey the message and debate between the protection of the environment versus the belief that it's the right to use and exploit all the resources of the planet to suit mankind's wants and needs? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 29, 1999
DVD/Streaming release date:July 20, 2000
Cast:Akira Nagoya, Yoji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida
Director:Hayao Miyazaki
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Sports and martial arts, Adventures, Wild animals
Run time:133 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:images of violence and gore

This review of Princess Mononoke was written by

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Parent of a 4 year old Written byermengrabby October 18, 2009

Miyazaki's masterpiece

I love this movie. So does my four year old son -- but he has very advanced tastes and is not easily frightened. ("It's just a movie, Mommy," complete with eye roll.) The violence is pretty intense and the resolution is rather subtle. My son had to see the movie many times before he really understood what happens to the forest spirit in the end.
Parent Written bySnafuy August 15, 2009

Very violent compared to other Miyazaki masterpieces

Princess Mononoke is one of my top ten favorite movies, ever. Intelligent characters, amazing concepts, gorgeous scenery. No irredeemable villains; only imperfect souls trying to do their best in a difficult world. This film contains many scenes of violence, including death, dismemberment, blood, and decaying corpses. Over the next few years my kids will see every Miyazaki film; Nausicaa and Mononoke will be saved for last.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bybabatopenot September 25, 2011

A content-focused review

This movie shows more blood in it than probably any other movie I have seen. Multiple heads are shot off by “demon” arrows, Princess Mononoke sucks mouthfuls of blood out of a wolf god’s wound to clean it, the main character is shot through the chest from which blood flows puddles on the ground as he exerts himself to open a city gate, a man has his arms shot off and pinned to a tree where they dangle for a moment, the decapitated head of a wolf-god bites off a woman’s arm, a ten-ton boargod vomits buckets of blood repeatedly, another boar-god rots away into a reeking carcass in seconds—and that is just the big stuff. This all sounds worse than it seems however, as the film’s cartoon nature makes the gore much less pronounced or offensive. As for sexual content, the film is mostly clean although “not applicable” is definitely an inaccurate rating. A band of women, who giggle a lot, is depicted in relatively modest kimonos (basically bathrobes) which nevertheless show a little cleavage. Many of them have, apparently, been rescued from more disreputable pasts and one man describes them as having been “wasted in the brothels” (a term which is used at least thrice in the movie). The women themselves say that their new life of manual labor is better because “the men no longer bother us…unless we want them to! *tee hee tee hee*” At one point, the main character goes to visit them (not in an inappropriate way) and helps them pump the billows for an iron mine. His efforts toss them lightly into the air which they find quite entertaining, but their bathrobes rumble a bit and one women jokes to another (off-screen) “Whoops! Better keep that kimono closed tight!” As for language, God’s name is abused a couple of times and b*stard, b*tch, d*mn and H*ll are each used, but only about once each. I like this website because of the user reviews, but whoever at CSM wrote this review clearly liked the movie too much. I mean: “Language = Not Applicable”? if b*stard, b*tch, d*mn, and H*ll don’t count as foul language, there is not much that does.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing